Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Hollywood Babble On & On #1143: Growth, Death, Or Farce?

Jeffrey Katzenberg raised some hackles when he declared during a speech that the movie industry is not a "growth industry" and that television is.

Well, he's wrong and he's right.

He's right in that at the moment the Hollywood movie industry is not a growth industry because it's management is sluggish, top-heavy, narrow minded, with business practices that range from silly to downright shady, and the studios are too busy making overpriced movies that need to break records just to break even while wilfully ignoring opportunities right in front of them.

Television is growing right now, but the traditional model will be hitting a wall and soon. There are so many outlets, almost all of them producing original content, and only so many people on the planet with only so much time on their hands for casual viewing. Then there's the cable-cutting, and a generation coming up who are used to watching things on computer screens and very unwilling to pay for what they're watching. Katzenberg suggests charging people "by the inch" or by the size of the device they're watching the movie on, and changing the "windows" that dictate when a film is released in theatres, and the many kinds of home video.


Pop your head into the way-back machine and travel back to the 1950s and 1960s. The studios were in rough shape. The government had forced them out of the theatre business, they had become incredibly top heavy, management wise, and one by one the the original founding moguls fell and were replaced by people who were more middle-level number crunching managerial than the sort of big picture entrepreneurial types who started the whole thing.

To top it all off television had reared it's flickering head as the first serious competition the movies had faced since vaudeville. The studios responded by making bigger, louder, and more colourful movies in the hope that they would win audiences back. 

While some broke records, and became classics, far too many cost too much to make a profit, and some of them bombed so badly they endangered the future of the studios that made them.

Sound familiar.

Karl Marx once said that history does repeat itself, the first time as a tragedy, and the next time as  farce.

Feature films were saved by the so-called "Movie Brat" generation. They were upstart baby-boomers raised on classic movies and early television who all wanted to make feature films because they wanted to do things they couldn't do on television.

The problem with feature films now is that there isn't anything you can do on a big screen that you can't do on television. 

In fact, there's one thing you can't do in most big budget feature films that is being done all the time on television, and that's tell a richly complex story.

What's the point of this rant?

Not really sure anymore.

All I do know is that we can't really put much credence in anyone's predictions of the future, even an expert who green-lit Peabody & Sherman, because the future hasn't happened yet. That means any attempt at a prediction is nothing more than guess work.

What do you think?

Monday, 28 April 2014

Hollywood Babble On & On #1142: Time To Knock Down The Tentpoles?

Cassian Elwes, who has been a major player in the independent film business for the last 20+ years, recently gave a speech where he slammed the practise of the major studios to rely more and more on the "rubbish" model of making what are called "Tentpole" pictures than creating a wider variety of films at lower prices. 

If you're not hep to the lingo of Hollywood business, a "Tentpole" is a big-budget, widely accessible film or television franchise designed to prop up the financial state of the studio or network.

He's got a point.

Since the majors are relying so heavily on expensive, special effects franchises to keep their corporate tents standing, it's having these effects…

1. FEWER MOVIES. Most of the major studios have slashed their outputs considerably. Basically most have boiled it down to three kinds of films FX heavy Mega-Blockbusters, Winter Oscar Bait, and Cheap Disposable Movies, like horror, comedies, and chick flicks, designed to fill time in between. 

With all the money and effort going into the mega-blockbusters the costs and the risks go up and the profit margins shrink. So the studios pursue what they think are safer routes while still chasing the billion dollar blockbuster dream. This means sequels, reboots, remakes, rehashes, and other nonsense that will ultimately result in a studio releasing 5 different versions of the same superhero movie simultaneously.

2. COSTLIER MOVIES. As I mentioned before these blockbusters cost more and more, and its creating a spending mindset that spreading into other genres. Even romantic comedies are starting to crack the $100 million budget line, which is insane.

3. SWAMPED MARKETS. When a big blockbuster comes out the strategy is to put it on as many screens as possible and to flood all media with advertising and marketing for the movie. If there's another film out at the same time that doesn't have the same mega-money, they're going to have a hell of a time trying to get noticed.

4. SHRINKING AUDIENCES. The key to the mega-blockbuster are the child-to-teenage ticket buyers who will see a movie repeatedly, and buy any related merchandise that comes with it. Adults tend to see a movie once, and then maybe pick it up on some form of home video if they really liked it. That means that Hollywood is losing interest in those kinds of ticket buyers, and television is taking up a lot of the slack for them.

That means that while some films may break records, the actual numbers of individuals who have actually seen the movie is getting smaller and smaller.

Do I see any change coming?


The management of Hollywood has no investment in the companies they run beyond their next quarterly bonus. Too many are Ivy League MBAs and there are not enough street level entrepreneurs who saw selling stars and stories as their ticket to the American dream.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Hollywood Babble On & On #1141: Bring Back The Old Days?

A corporate lawyer named Schuyler Moore at Forbes Magazine has written an article about how the major studios should bring back the old style studio star system.

If you don't know your Hollywood history, don't worry, I'll do some explaining.

Back in ye olden days the major studios like MGM, Paramount, Warner Bros, Universal, Columbia, 20th Century Fox, RKO, United Artists, and major independents like David O. Selznick, Samuel Goldwyn, and Republic Pictures would have actors under contract. 

The contract basically bound the actor to that company for about seven years where they worked exclusively for that company and for whoever their master rents them out to. In exchange they got a set weekly salary, training in acting, singing and dancing, and the resources of the studio machine to protect them and their peccadilloes.

Each studio's roster of stars became a reflection of the studio's identity. MGM's roster was both the biggest and most glamorous, Warner Brothers had the toughest tough guys and dames in the racket, etc… etc… 

Now this system started to collapse after World War 2. 

The studios were forced to divest from their movie theatres, slashing their profit margins, then along came competition from television, and suddenly keeping large stables of actors on salary, whether they made money or not, became untenable.

Meanwhile, big stars started to feel their oats as free agents. Jimmy Stewart broke ground with the film Winchester 73 at Universal, where he produced the film, waiving the up-front money for a piece of the profits, and making a nice packet doing it.

Most of the major studios really didn't know how to handle this new way of doing business, and many spent the next 20+ years flailing and coming close to failing, except for United Artists, who thrived under it.

Nowadays everything revolves around stars, whether they have real box office appeal or not. They get massive amounts up front, and if they, or their agents have clout within the Hollywood community they get "Dollar One" deals basically sucking up a chunk of the theatrical revenue before even the studio gets their cut.

As Mr. Moore says it's wildly inefficient, costly, and can often make the difference between profit and loss with a movie. Moore says it would be better if the studios scouted raw new talent, put them under contract and made them stars.

Will it be better?

Well, let's look at the PROS & CONS!


STABILITY: Both actors and the studios could use with the stability of a set regular paycheque and set regular work.

Now if the studios only made feature films then it could be a problem, because they don't make as many feature films as their golden age counterparts, but let's not forget that they also make acres and acres of television every year. So actors who aren't busy making movies can be busy making TV and vice versa.

PROFITABILITY: Even if the studio doles out raises, cash rewards and percentages to their major stars they still won't be shelling out the mega-millions they're paying out now.

LEVERAGE: The studios won't have to take the shit of some major stars and have to call it ice cream anymore. They can just say "Have it your way, but you won't have it that way with us, we'll just do it in house."


STUDIO MANAGEMENT: The old studio system worked because the studios were run by people who were deeply invested in the success of their films and their stars.

These moguls made it their business to know what was going on in every facet of their companies. They were also surrounded by a comparatively small cadre of executives and producers who knew who was ultimately in charge and based their whole careers on the studio's success because it was their success.

Nowadays executives tend to be merely interchangeable cogs in a vast machine rather than a visionary leader with a team of hungry hustlers on the make who are also invested in their vision of success. Executives these days don't see themselves in the business of using stars to sell stories, they see themselves in the business of figuring out ways of keeping people like stars, filmmakers, and investors from getting their share of any profits.

STUDIO TASTES: The people running the studios these days don't have taste. Taste is personal and instinctual, and they're scared of the personal and instinctual because then they might have to take responsibility. So they pawn such things off on so-called "experts" who do lots of "market research" essentially on unemployed people found in shopping malls in the middle of the day.

The problem is that market research rarely reflects what will actually get the most people to buy tickets or watch television shows. Market research can only find the blandest option available, and in the long run, bland doesn't really create stars.

The old moguls went by gut reaction because unlike modern executives, they were not Ivy League MBAs from Greenwich, Beverly Hills, or the Hamptons who look down on the "Wal-Mart Shoppers of Flyover Country." They usually had working class roots and shared many of the same tastes as the wider audience.

Look at most of the successful actors from the dawn of cinema history to today, and you just know that most of them wouldn't pass market research or modern executive muster alone. Ingrid Bergman is too fat with too much of an overbite, Diane Keaton's too skinny, Humphrey Bogart's too ugly, Jimmy Stewart's too tall and stutters, Jennifer Lawrence is too fat for magazine covers, Audrey Hepburn's too short and no one can place her accent, Al Pacino's too short and too ethnic, and John Wayne's not metrosexual enough to sell to the hipsters.

True star power doesn't follow a formula that can be seen and studied. It's instinct, a feeling a performer gives you that says that you should see more of them.

That means taking on a certain level of risk when recruiting and polishing stars. Risk that I don't think the studios are willing, or able, to take, no matter the potential rewards.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Hollywood Babble On & On #1140: Are Ideas Dead?

Hollywood became the dominant player in global entertainment because it flooded the world with stories. Stories come from ideas, and now a lot of people are starting to feel that ideas are dead.

Let's look at Hollywood's development slate. First Disney's putting together what they hope will be a movie franchise based on their It's A Small World ride. Meanwhile someone else is putting together a movie/TV franchise based on the Marshmallow Peeps candy, and the most logical sounding of these decisions, but not by much, is that they're rebooting Eli Roth's 11 year old Cabin Fever.

Oy gevalt.

First let's look at Cabin Fever. I'm not as outraged at it being rebooted since it's the nature of the beast for horror films to be sequelized, remade, rebooted, and rehashed until there's no blood left in its rotting stinking corpse. But let's take a look at the facts. The original was made on a $1.5 million budget, and raked in about $30 million at the box office. Not a bad rate of return even after you deduct P&A and the House Nut.

The sequel Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever however, came and went in theatres with barely a notice, and then went to DVD where it clutters up discount bins next to countless other forgotten films. Even its director wants nothing to do with it.

Now I can see the strategy forming in the minds that are behind the reboot idea. They look at the first film and how it made so much money and they're thinking that if they do a bigger version then that will do even bigger at the box office.

But there's a catch.

I'm not a fan of Eli Roth's particular brand of nihilistic gory cinema, but I have noticed a pattern.

The films are not the franchise, he is.

Usually he directs the first film, goes off to do something else, and someone else makes the sequel. The sequels, like Cabin Fever 2, Hostel 2, etc…etc… usually disappear into DVD oblivion. They're usually too violent for most basic cable outlets, so they really have to make their money in theatres and in home video.

Yet what are they, each film is essentially about good looking people dying horribly in ways that are mostly different in each film. A sequel simply tells fans of that genre that they're going to see more good looking people die horribly the same way they saw in the first film.

So why bother.

Now, onto the others.

I know why Disney wants to do It's A Small World as a movie, and it's not just to scare the living crap out of Clive Barker.

It's this…
Disney knows that the "branding" of a ride doesn't hurt at the box office, and here's a franchise that doesn't involve the overpriced and under-performing star Johnny Depp and director Gore Verbinski driving up the costs of the franchise into the realm of unprofitability.

However, Pirates was basically just a title tacked onto a fantasy story involving pirates. It's a lot more wide open story-and-idea-wise than a tour of how America sees the world's stereotypes in 1963.

Then again, the movie, like its predecessor will probably have NOTHING to do with the ride. They just want the title because branding is all they want these days.

Now lets talk about making a movie about a mushy candy that people seem to eat a lot of around Easter.

Yep, a Peeps movie.

Now like the others I know why they're making this movie.
They figure if a movie about a toy could make huge bank then a movie about a candy can do the same.

But is that thinking seeing the whole picture?

The Lego Movie wasn't exactly about Lego, or it would have starred a bunch of faceless blocks. Instead it was about a range of characters, all of whom under the aegis of Warner Bros., engaging in a wacky adventure.

It wasn't a movie about a toy, instead the toy was used as a vehicle for a multi-franchise/multi-genre family friendly spoof.

That's why it succeeded.

Do Peeps have characters and story lines ripe for family friendly comedy?

I'm not so sure.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Comic Book Confidential: Don't Be Hating.

You can't spend much time discussing comics, and comic conventions without the issue of sexism rearing it's ugly head. Women both in the business, and fans regularly complain about behaviour covering the full spectrum from merely annoying on the mildest end, to creepy, then to pervy, and all the way to downright scary and threatening on the other. These complaints also tend to expose the complainant to even more abuse ranging from childish name-calling on the mild side of the spectrum all the way to rape and death threats.

Then I saw this on twitter:


First: Who in the hell would want to wear this shirt in public, especially at a convention?

You're pretty much telling all women at said convention that you hate them and that both women and men should treat you with scorn and derision for being an obnoxious sexist pig.

You'd have to be pretty hardcore delusional to wear that bit of sartorial nonsense.

Which means that somebody probably paid good money for advertising their social dysfunction.

Then you get guys complaining about "fangirls" and "fake geek girls" and how terrible they are, yadda, yadda, yadda...

Which raises a question.


When I was just a fledgling nerd a woman having an interest in the same things that I was interested in was viewed as a gift from Heaven. If she liked different facets of the same things, like Spider-Man over Batman, or Star Wars over Star Trek, it didn't matter, I thought the tent of geekdom was big enough for all.

Sure you would argue over which franchise or character was better, but that's all right, because debating minutiae is part of being a geek.

What isn't part of being a geek is making people feel unwelcome, or even threatened for not fitting in.

If you're a geek of my pre-internet generation you know the sting of being left out or even cast out because you don't fit someone's narrow idea of who should belong in the club and who shouldn't.

Why perpetuate that kind of thinking just because you have a fairly anonymous social media account?

Why act like a perv just because an attractive woman is wearing a sexy costume at a convention?

Why threaten someone with violence just because you don't agree with their views, or their existence?

The comics industry isn't helping with the whole issue of sexism, especially when they put out things like this…


This brain dead belief that ramping up sexuality beyond even the realm of male teenage fantasy to somehow compete with internet porn imposes an air of sleaziness in comics. This sleaziness brings little or no reward, and actually make it harder to attract new readers. But that, and the ongoing managerial dysfunction in some comics companies are the subjects for other posts.

I can't explain why some men act like brain damaged apes towards women. That would require dipping my toe into hundreds of different psychological snake-pits. 

However, I can propose a solution.



You know what I mean, simple courtesy, and etiquette. Respecting other people as human beings, not as targets of digital vitriol, or your lechery that somehow interprets the wearing of a certain kind of outfit as an invitation for you to act like a drooling pervert.

When people treat each other with courtesy and respect personal interactions become way easier, and people can get down to doing what they're supposed to be doing, enjoying the stuff they like.

That's what I think, let me know what you think in the comments.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Hollywood Babble On & On #1139: Mrs. Doubtfire Returns

Fox 2000 has commissioned a writer to develop a script for Mrs. Doubtfire 2, a sequel to the 1993 comedy starring Robin Williams. 

If you don't have basic cable, where the first film has been running on a loop for the last 20 years, it's the story of an unemployed actor who lost custody of his children because of his irresponsibility, so he puts on an elaborate disguise as an old British lady to become their nanny, and G to light PG  rated hilarity ensues.

Reports say that the studio has been sniffing around the idea of a sequel since the original raked in over $200+ million domestic but struggled to come up with a decent premise since (SPOILER ALERT) the original film has a happy ending.

One can imagine what the studio is thinking to jump into a sequel 20 years later, when the star is struggling to keep a sitcom on the air. I can imagine to pitch meeting:
PRESIDENT: We need a new movie. Something original and daring! 
EXECUTIVE: If an original movie flops, you could get fired.
PRESIDENT: Good point. Have a new Mercedes. We need a new remake or a sequel. Something where I can deny making any mistakes when it flops, and blame it on the market research people. 
EXECUTIVE: (looks through list) We haven't done a Mrs. Doubtfire sequel yet.
PRESIDENT: Wasn't it a one joke premise that is all wrapped up nicely with a happy ending?
EXECUTIVE: More or less.
PRESIDENT: What will be the new movie's premise?
EXECUTIVE: We could have Robin Williams disguise himself as an actor with a viable movie career…
PRESIDENT: Hmmmm… Sounds edgy, daring, and inventive. I HATE IT! 
EXECUTIVE: We could just pay some writer to come up with a reason for him to dress up like an old lady again.
PRESIDENT: PERFECT! Give it a green light and a $100 million budget. We don't want to spend to much on it, times are tight.
EXECUTIVE: You got it boss!
In case you missed it, there are pretty good reasons why it's hard to make a sequel to a family comedy, especially 20 years later.

1. TIME: It's literally been 20 years since the last movie. It's quite believable for the Williams character to be a grandparent. So what's the premise? He has to disguise himself as an old lady to spend time with his grandchildren, who he can't normally see because his meth-head oldest child lost custody and got a restraining order against the whole family. Sounds more depressing than ever.

2. HAPPY ENDING: The first film ended with him restoring his connection with his kids, and having success as an actor. So why must his character don a disguise as an old lady? Did he lose everything, is he on the run from the mob, have his kids disowned him and forbidden him from seeing his grandkids? Either way, the happy ending that had been earned through his comical trials has hence been declared all for nothing. That created a subconscious sense in the audience that they'd been kinda cheated, and many will just stay home.

3. ONE JOKE: That's all the original had. Sure, it may have seemed original and novel at the time, but it's been done to death over the last 20 years.

I wish Hollywood wasn't ruled by greed and fear, then maybe they might be willing to try something original and novel again.

But I doubt it.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Hollywood Babble On & On #1138: Apres Colbert Les Deluge?

Okay, we all know that Stephen Colbert is replacing David Letterman, that's a fact, and some are already prepping excuses for him to pull in low ratings, which is probably a given. But this is not what this post is about.

What this post is about is the half-hour gap Colbert will be leaving on Comedy Central between The Daily Show and @Midnight. For those who don't know The Daily Show is where Jon Stewart earns $25-$30 million a year, more than the $20 million earned by Leno and Letterman, for about half of their viewers. @Midnight is a mock game show hosted by nerd-king Chris Hardwick where comedians and other smart-alecs crack wise about crazy stuff the show's writers and producers find on the internet. Now @Midnight's been seeing a very steady rise in viewership thanks to its aggressive online word of mouth campaigns on social networks, and some say it often beats The Daily Show in key demos.

So what should go in between them?

Well, Comedy Central is not really known as the best run of networks, at least from what I've heard. One story I heard involved a producers and cast waiting over a year to find out if their show had been renewed because someone somewhere forgot to make a phone call. So don't expect any decisions being made as swiftly and surely as CBS did with Colbert/Letterman.

Basically, the management style is that if you're one of the flagship clique who deliver either big ratings or lots of kudos they will give you the moon, if you don't you're a punching bag.

Which brings us to who and what will get Colbert's Comedy Central time slot?

Now political humour these days is pretty thin, there are too many areas that are more or less off limits to political comedians barring a shift in who runs Washington. 

So doing another political show to replace a political show to reiterate what their main political show just said would just be flogging a dead horse.

Perhaps a more mainstream talk show format would be best, but then the host would be key.

Now if Comedy Central was smart, they'd set up a show where a funny host, or rotating roster of funny hosts, recruited from podcasts, have half-hour chats with other funny people. Include audience participation via the internet, segments, video sketches, and other nonsense.

But Comedy Central will probably just sign the show over to Chelsea Handler in the hope that she'll bring more than her usual 500,000 female fans with her from the E! Network.

It's the safe choice from their point of view.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Hollywood Babble On & On #1137: REBOOT REBOOT REBOOT!

Universal Pictures has put a feature film reboot of Battlestar Galactica on the development fast track, because it's considered way easier and safer than doing anything, you know, original.

Now I want you remember that this movie is a remake of a 2004-2009 TV series, which itself was a remake of a TV series that first premiered in 1978 before being cancelled.

So here we are, Universal's best idea is to do a remake of a remake that's still pretty fresh in everyone's minds. At this rate of rebooting by 2020 every major studio's summer release schedule will be three different versions of the same film.

Why are they doing this?

Greed and fear.

Greed in that they honestly think people will pay to see something they've already seen fairly recently because they believe people are stupid with the long term memories of goldfish.

Fear in that they're all terrified of losing their jobs. So they go for what they think will protect them. Chiefly picking a familiar franchise, running through some market research focus groups, and then say when it all goes to pot: "You can't fire me, I did everything I could to make sure we had a hit."

But did they?

First, let's look at the franchise itself, and the nature of that franchise and whether or not it's got real potential for a reboot.

The original Battlestar Galactica was a ratings hit when it first aired, but then rival CBS rescheduled their hit sitcoms All In The Family and Alice to directly compete, leaving Galactica with only 28% of the audience. 

Ironically, numbers that would be considered a mega-hit now was not enough for the ABC network to justify the expensive show.

Faced with an audience backlash ABC gave the green light to a cheaper new show called Galactica 1980. The premise of the pilot involved the Galactica and it's ragtag fleet of ships finding Earth in the year 1980, and Starbuck and Apollo having to use time travel to stop Baltar from rewriting Earth's history.

However ABC balked at the time travel premise, viewing it as too expensive and complicated. Also most of the cast of the original show was either not interested, or too busy doing other things to do this show. So they jumped ahead about 30 years, said most of the previous show's characters were either dead or missing, and sent 2 new characters and a bunch of annoying kids to live on Earth. Plus, changes in gravity and other things have given those annoying kids superpowers.

The new show didn't last, it had low ratings and was canned after 10 episodes.

The rejected fixing history premise was later revived by producers into a show called Quantum Leap.

Anyway, the Galactica franchise lay dormant for over 20 years before being re-imagined as the new Battlestar Galactica on what is now called the SyFy Channel. The show was a hit by basic cable standards, and racked up some critical acclaim and audience devotion.

It ended a four year run, with a finale that somewhat divided fans. Universal and SyFy didn't want to completely lose the franchise, but didn't want to pay for all those expensive CGI spaceships. They wanted something a little more planet-bound and that led to the creation of Caprica.

Caprica sought to tell the story of the creation of the Cylons and their eventual break from human society.

It was never as popular as Battlestar: Galactica, and it only lasted one season.

Universal/SyFy then tried another prequel pilot movie called Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome. The premise was following the adventures of Commander Adama, before he became Edward James Olmos and was just a cocky young fighter pilot. SyFy lost faith in the premise and released it first as "webisodes" before airing it as a TV movie.

Now they want to do Battlestar Galactica all over again, this time as a movie.

First, the franchise, as you can see, has a fairly spotty record, especially in the spin-off department, and I think I know why.

It's a story franchise, not a procedural franchise.

You see a procedural franchise is one where a hero or heroes face a series of villains and adventures in every instalment. There may be character development and story arcs between instalments, but they're not essential to know to enjoy them. A good example are James Bond films and superhero films which can generally be rebooted and rehashed into infinity. There are always new villains and adventures to face in every instalment and who cares who plays the hero as long as they do a good job.

Galactica is a story franchise. It's the story of Exodus set in outer space and peppered with Mormon theology. It's supposed to have a set beginning, a set middle, and a set end. All problems are variations of the main one, surviving until they find a new home on the planet Earth, and all threats are variations of the central villain, the Cylons.

Unlike a procedural franchise, every time you reboot it, you're just repeating one story, not introducing a new adventure.

I'm not sure if that's a recipe for success.

That's what I think, let me know what you think.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Hollywood Babble On & On #1136: Who Will Replace Letterman?

Okay, we all know David Letterman is leaving the Late Show on CBS, and that I'm not really going to miss him, since I long stopped missing him in the mid-1990s, so let's join in with everyone else on the internet with POINTLESS SPECULATIONS OVER WHO WILL REPLACE HIM!!

Now remember, this is not NBC we're talking about, there is no Lorne Michaels at CBS holding onto everyone in the executive suite by the short and curlies. CBS has always been a top-down monarchy, so the final decision will rest with network uber-boss Les Moonves. So let's take a look at some of the people being considered or recommended for the job... 


Ferguson has been hosting the post-Letterman slot for about 10 years.

PROS: Charming host, good interviewer who seems actually interested in his guests. He's also pretty good at retaining a good chunk of Letterman's audience while attracting fans of his own.

CONS: His loopy, geeky, and absurdist style and tendency to interview authors, which is considered heresy by networks executives may keep him from promoting him to the more mainstream 11:35 PM slot.

Don't cry for him if he doesn't get the gig, according to reports, his contract stipulates a $12 million payoff if he's passed over.


Colbert is the front runner because everyone in media wants him to be the front runner.

PROS: He's hugely popular in media circles, and his show The Colbert Report, where he plays a parody of a conservative pundit gets about a million viewers on average, mostly around college age, which is a coveted demographic. People also seem to like him as an interviewer.

CONS: He's hugely popular in media circles. Which means that he tends to play more to the shibboleths and prejudices of the media community that I like to call The Axis of Ego, over the mainstream audience. Also the network will push to soften his sharp edges to appeal to the mainstream, which might hurt the audience he already has.

If he doesn't get the job I will be extremely surprised.


Ellen is being touted as a replacement to break the "Middle Aged White Male" dynamic of late night talk shows.

PROS: Has a successful syndicated daytime talk show, and a pretty good public image.

CONS: Has no reason to leave her daytime talk show, where she has lots of control to go work for a network and it's legions of executives. Plus, if rumours are true, I'm not sure if the tightly run, closely knit CBS network would stand for having the staff of it's late night flagship fired and replaced at least once or twice a season.


She's leaving her E! Network show and is rumoured to be in talks with CBS to replace Letterman, though those rumours may be coming from her.

PROS: Has about 500,000+ fans, mostly females 18-49, who will watch and buy just about anything she puts her name on.

CONS: Her personality, style, and choice of subject matter generally means that those 500,000+ seem to be all she's got, and her attempts to go mainstream, like the sitcom based on her life, tend to disappear unnoticed.


The legendary "shock jock" has also been touted as a replacement for Letterman.

PROS: The self-proclaimed "King of All Media" has a large and loyal fan base that followed him into the realm of uncensored satellite radio.

CONS: He'd never take the job because it would mean a pay cut and loss of the freedom he enjoys in satellite radio. Plus, he's only a few years younger than Letterman, so how long could he maintain the grind of a daily show?

However, reports say that Stern recommended:


Gutfeld hosts the Fox News shows Red Eye at 3 AM and co-hosts The Five at 5 PM.

PROS: Gutfeld would mark a radical change in style and attitude from Letterman, and Gutfeld manages to get 350,000-500,000 viewers on average which is pretty good for a cable show on at three in the morning.

CONS: There's no way in hell one of the big three networks would let him host their flagship late shows. He's too right wing politically, too prone to push controversial buttons, and he bears the "taint" of Fox News, which means that he will never win any industry awards which networks will accept in place of ratings as long as their costs are covered.

The network's more likely to replace the Late Show with...


The original series, set during the Korean War, ran over 3X longer than the real war, going 11 years on CBS.

PROS: It appeals to the late night audience, which has been skewing older and older in recent years, and will be cheaper than the mega-bucks needed to pay a host.

CONS: I can't think of any.

Who do you think should replace Letterman?